How newspapers can get readers under 30

newspaperEveryone is touting the death of the printed word because the audience for newspapers is declining every time someone is born into the digital age. But that doesn’t mean that they have to go quietly into the night. Here’s an idea that could re-engage young readers and leverage the power of the printed word: Use the potential of the internet to boost readership offline.

Here’s how it could work.

One thing that Web 2.0 has taught us is that we love to engage with social media. Part of that is getting our opinions heard (case in point, see: this blog). This is where newspapers aren’t doing a good job. A half page of letters to the editor (often sited as one of the more popular areas of the paper) just doesn’t cut it anymore. What if newspapers used the comments they received online and transferred them to their printed edition the very next day? Users could vote, Digg-style, for the best comments on select editorial pieces or emotionally-charged news stories, and those ones would make the cut.

It may not be a long-term solve, but there is still quite a bit of cachet to getting your letter printed in the newspaper. Avid readers of online editions (which typically skew younger), could make comments online and be drawn to the printed version to see their letter or comment in print. After all, no matter how old we get, we still want mom to have something to cut out for the fridge.

Doritos contest update

Color me impressed. The Doritos contest I mentioned a few weeks ago is bringing in some very good entries. The animated commercials seem to be getting the most views, and it’s probably because they look the most polished. There’s nothing that turns viewers off more than poorly lit, barely audible actors shot on handheld video camera.

However, there are some real gems in there. My favorite so far is Chipacabra.

How to start your own business in 4 hours

business-schoolI work for a fairly entrepreneurial agency, where we are consistently coming up with new ways for our clients to do things with respect to their operations, sales, marketing or business processes. However, we rarely redefine ourselves, or if we do, it seems the redefinition moves at a pace that would make government agencies blush. Now I know this isn’t actually the case with us (I’m just impatient by nature), but while I am feeling like we’re moving at glacial speed I daydream about what it would be like to have my own business. I envision how the employees would be compensated, or what the culture would be like. Trouble is that often, like many people, I don’t have the foggiest what I’d actually sell or produce, or how to get this product or service properly funded.

Worry no more. I just came across a few great blog posts that are here to help.

The 6 month MBA blog has a new list of 999 business ideas. Some are a bit far fetched, but some are downright brilliant. And as they say, success is in the execution.

Once you’ve browsed through this site (I was inspired by many, but #31, the Santa Delivery Service, #51, Google for video and audio and #129, a themed restaurant where you sing Karaoke in front of a live band, were particularly inspiring), start writing your business plan. Doesn’t have to be lengthy – for tips visit Guy Kawasaki’s site. Then submit it to Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks, who has recently put out an offer for open source funding for business plans. If he likes your plan, he’ll fund it for a piece of equity.

Happy brainstorming.

Is food the new recycling?

recycle_logoA few days ago I was speaking to a colleague of mine about breakfast. He asked me what I ate, and since I recently made the effort to actually eat something in the morning instead of mainlining three cups of coffee, I proudly told him that I eat a bowl of Rice Krispies before work. His response wasn’t what I was expecting.

“Ugh, you eat CEREAL?” he spat out. “Do you have any idea how many preservatives and chemicals are in them?” He then followed by pontificating on why his proper mix of flax and god-knows-what-else he eats for breakfast is the right thing to do. Which made me wonder: Is food the new recycling?

Everyone I know recycles. I don’t as much as I should. Really, when the contest is between rinsing out the tomato sauce can and a Seinfeld rerun, Mr. Seinfeld wins every time. I don’t think I’m alone, either. But I think we all try to recycle more because there is a shame culture behind not doing it, which, as a marketer, I must share some blame for.

Now I’ll make all of you flax lovers a deal. I’ll rinse out my tomato sauce cans more if you lay off the food scrutiny. In 10 years I don’t want to have to walk into the ‘Adult’ section of the grocery store just to buy my Rice Krispies.

Are we the best marketers for Doritos?

250g_doritos_bilingualI’m a big fan of Doritos. Not just their product, which I’m sure keeps my local gym happy, but their approach to marketing. You may recall a few years ago they ran a campaign promoting a contest for the best TV commercial, that would air during the Superbowl. It generated so much buzz that they did the same thing again this year. The winning entry didn’t only win the Doritos contest, it was widely recognized as people’s favorite Superbowl commercial. Take that, Chiat Day.

Well, Doritos has done it again. Now they’ve launched a high profile contest in Canada to name their newest flavor of chips. People are encouraged to name the chips and create a TV commercial. The winning entry will receive $25,000 and 1% of net sales for the brand.

Pretty good tactic. Or is it?

With 10 times the population, it’s a pretty safe bet that in the USA at least one commercial generated from the thousands of entries is going to be worthy of broadcast. But what if we Canadians come up short and produce something god awful? Will Doritos still run the crappy ad that wins by virtue of most online votes?

Or, is the way to look at this exercise that regardless of the outcome, Doritos has created a bunch of buzz around the brand. The proof, I suppose, is in the results.

I’m in love. Linkedin told me so.

linkedin_logoI’ve been a member of Linkedin for just a short while, and like many users I log in infrequently – generally only when I have received a connection request or an email from a connection. I like the power of the referral engine at Linkedin, which will use data I’ve input to hook me up with other people who went to my college at the same time, or who worked at the same organization.

What amazed me (and freaked me out a little), is that it just referred my girlfriend to me as a connection. Not surprising you say. But we didn’t go to the same school, we’ve never worked at the same company, for the last 15 years we’ve lived in different cities, and no, we do not have any shared connections, or if we do, they’re quite distant.

So how did Linkedin know to put us together? And can it please remind me when our anniversary is?

Why charge for airport WiFi?

I spend a portion of my time traveling for work. And I’ve got to tell you, there’s nothing more frustrating that picking up a WiFi signal, only to be rerouted to some landing page charging 30 cents a minute for connectivity. What compounds my frustration is how some airports choose to go the free route, while others charge like Scrooge. Can’t we, as advertisers, find a better way? Would you be open to seeing a few pre-roll ads, or answer a survey before you got your WiFi for free in an airport, or better yet, a bus station or public park?